Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pastors Less Informed About Culture in America

The Adventist Review Newsletter linked to an interesting article by Baptist Press entitled: Is the church out of touch? asks LifeWay culture survey

The article points out that pastors are less informed about popular culture then their church members. The concluding paragraph states:

Sellers also noted that one criticism people often have about churches is that they are out of touch with the world around them. “The data shows ministers are, generally speaking, not all that informed about the culture in which they seek to minister. The people in the pews feel much more informed about the Internet, movies, videogames and other expressions of popular culture than do their pastors. People are definitely impacted by the culture they consume -– the websites they visit or the music they listen to, for instance. Pastors need to be informed about what’s out there in order to understand how the culture is influencing the people they are trying to reach,” Sellers said.
There was however one area where the ministers felt they were better informed and that was the area of politics:

Ministers tend to stay most informed about politics, with 36 percent saying they are very informed about the subject and another 55 percent saying they are somewhat informed. This is the only category in the study about which ministers feel better informed than the laity, with 29 percent of all churchgoers feeling very informed about politics and another 47 percent feeling somewhat informed.
The area's of popular culture were:
12 facets of today’s culture: books, music, sports, celebrities, television programs, politics, magazines, radio and TV talk shows, movies, the Internet, video and computer games, and clothing and fashion.
Granted a lot of that stuff is garbage. I get a free issue of Spin magazine and reading about a lot of the new groups shows just how worthless they are to society. But there always are exceptions and quality. Those exceptions can be found in all of the above areas and are worthy of consideration.

This leaves the minister in the position of needing to be intellectually and culturally relevant. But then again isn't that the same position for all of us. In our world or the world of old it is rarely the uninformed who have an impact.


Anonymous said...

Having a pastor who did not go from one SDA institution to Seminary, we are fortunate that ours worked in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley for seven years before deciding to become as pastor. His training, also, was not at Andrews but at Fuller Theological Seminary so he is well versed in the average life of his congregation. This is most evident in his sermons. Familiarity with the people's lives is of ultimate importance.

Monte said...

The problem with this survey is that does NOT measure how informed people are; it measures the relative feelings of two groups about how informed they think they might be. The only clear finding is that pastors are less likely to think they are well-informed than do laity. This is most likely simply a measure of the fact that pastors do more careful thinking about these things than do the laity (in general); they feel less informed because they have thought a little more about the issues and complexities involved. Laity are quicker to think, "I know about it." That is all that can really be had from these data, and that's not surprising at all. This research is not worth very much.

Ron Corson said...

I think Monte is giving us a bit of a biased view. I don't see that there is any reason to assume Pastors are more self aware then their congregations. In fact if it was the case that the Pastors simply realized that through their careful thinking that they did not know much about popular culture how is it they they felt they knew more about politics?

It may be that the pastors felt that they should appear to know less about popular culture then they really did, but I doubt that because knowing about something does not signify approval of something.

But maybe Monte has a point, I sometimes become confused over the complexities of Brittany Spears life.

Hitler Reference Guy said...

One of the things that Hitler took advantage of is the fact that influential people often have no idea of what people are experiencing. They make decisions in the dark. Being ignorant of pop culture is not something to be proud of.